Sunday, April 30, 2006

Yep. I still stink at chess.

This damned balance thing. When I focus on openings too much, I get weaker in the middle game. When I am doing tactical exercises, I get weaker in the opening. I can't wait until the circles are over. I'm gonna need a repertoire as white. I'm gonna need to work a lot on getting my thinking process working on every move. I'm gonna have to play (and lose) a lot of games, and review them.

I am in the middle of circle 1. Why am I already sick of the circles?


Blogger Temposchlucker said...

I never use a balanced approach. I concentrate on one subject and go to the edge. I started with a year working only on my opening repertoire. Nothing else.The last 3 years I focussed on tactics. I gained the maximum from tactics what can be done with simple means. Now I focus on endings. Since my tactics are way beyond average, I don't have to worry about it anymore. My repertoire is still beyond average, so that will not distract me either.When you work on only one subject at the time, it becomes much clearer what your other weaknesses are. At the moment my endgame skills become beyond average, in a few years or so, it will become very clear what has to be the next step. Ok, for this approach you need patience, since you will reap the fruits in the future, but it will take you a decade anyway to improve.

The advantage of this approach is that I always liked to study, since I was never distracted by other promising areas.

4/30/2006 03:49:00 AM  
Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

My comment sucked. Forget about it. I'm tired.

4/30/2006 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Okay, i'll give it another try... The way i go about it is as followed; My main concern right now is to focus on studying tactics. And on the side (besides using CBase9 a lot) i regularly visit to quickly play through some games that use the openings that i have chosen to play. I am not into studying openings at the time, nore am i building a repertoire as in inputting moves into CBase9 and correct reply's and such. I will save that for later (sure it is tempting to work on). Whenever i refer to a repertoire at this point, i am refering only to the openings i have chosen to play. And like i said, what i do on the side (besides tactics), is visit and play through games that feature the openings i play myself. Playing roughly through the openings mainly, not the entire game. I do this to try and get a feel for the openings i have chosen to play. I do not try and remember lines and everything, i try to get a feel for it... I prefer to use games played by the old-school masters. Modern theory is cool and all that, but you need to start at the basis i think, and the old-school masters layed out the foundation. And you'll be surprised as to how much modern day theory was allready played back then. But you were probably aware of that allready. Anyway, i suggest to you that you pick some openings that you are really interested in. Try to find some old-school masters that played it to go along. Study your tactics, and once and a while play through the opening stages of the games you gathered. Try to get a feel for them. Things will stick for themselves after a while. I see it in my own games. But the key is to play and stick with the openings you choose. Preferably for about a year or so. Note, this is just a suggestion. I am probably nothing more then an amateur, so... I hope i got everything right in my comment, cause i'm still tired. Good luck!

4/30/2006 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You and Celtic Death could swap out posts! He's saying the same thing.

4/30/2006 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I just looked at CD's post, and he has a more positive spin. Yes, the other aspects of my game will suffer while I do the circles, but as Tempo intimated, I am doing the circles because I really need to improve at tactics more than anything else, and the only way to do so is to do a butt-load of tactical problems.

Wow, I actually feel better. Thanks, Knights!

Edwin, thanks for the ideas. When I finish the circles I'm gonna really settle down on a repertoire. I like studying openings too much, though admittedly it really helped my game when I was obsessed with it for about a month. I look forward to getting back into it.

My hunch is, that after doing CTB, I'll want to do CTI (chess tactics for intermediate players).

Or, I'll be sick of tactics, more likely.

4/30/2006 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

The key is to buy chess books on a whim, and then get through the first chapter, before starting on something else. Try and keep it as random as possible.

Just kidding. I think Tempo has a good strategy, but for me, I need to mix it up just to keep things interesting. I'd think breaking things down into smaller blocks. Say, three month intervals. Then you could revisit material. But tactics are just so absolutely key, they should always be apart of your diet.

5/01/2006 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

Balance? The circles are inherently inflexible and unbalanced. That is my problem with them. By definition, the MDLM plan consists of tactical overdose at the expense of everything else. Circles are only appropriate for one who has been severely tactics-deprived for a couple years. Look at MDLM himself-- he had trudged through a few Silman books before doing the circles. (Pity for him; Silman books do not excite me at all.)

It is curious that the Knights adopted the Don Quixote analogy because in my opinion you might just be fighting windmills. Even in cases where the Circles appear ineffective or start killing your love for the game, you continue with them because... well, I'm not even sure why.

IMO, tournament games are really the ticket. Nothing exposes one's weaknesses so cruelly as getting thrown in an arena for chess battle.

I do really value this chivalrous community of knights, and hope my wayward criticisms do not undermine that fact. :)

5/02/2006 12:16:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tournaments are an indulgence I don't have the time for right now. Chess just isn't that important to me to spend a full day on it at a tournament. My goal is to reach 1200 so I can enjoy the game a bit more than when I started. I don't want to reach 1500, be a master, or anything like that. To do that, I'd really have to do more: like an hour a day or so for a year, likely. I'd rather spend that time on math or programming, frankly.

5/02/2006 12:32:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

On the other hand, on my final few circles, I'll be spending a lot more time on chess.

We'll see. This isn't a race. People often act like it's a life-collapsing mistake when you train "incorrectly" in chess, focusing on openings as a beginner, etc.. I understand the motivation: people are trying to help others study more efficiently (this typically means "How I study", especially for people with no experience teaching chess (experienced chess teachers, on the other hand (even Silman!) invariably recommend an intense tactic blitz for people under 1200)).

Personally, I am like Tempo. I am not intellectually balanced, and don't particularly like being balanced. I tend to go all out on one thing and really focus on it to the exclusion of all else. In my original post, I had neglected that this was my style, and was bemoaning the fact that I had forgotten move 15 on the Keres opening of the Ruy. It was an irrational depression. With each iteration of obsession, I'll improve.

I'm back on track with the Circles, baby!

5/02/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Friend of Plato said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/02/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Friend of Plato said...

I think, if your immediate goal is too just hit 1200, you ought to forgoe all openings study and focus exclusively on tactics. No 1200 player knows anything about openings or the endgame, and you can just tacticaly crush your way through to that 1200 rating. I remember when myself and two of my buddies started playing tournaments. We all started off unrated and ended up with initial established ratings between 860-985. We knew nothing and we totally sucked. It was in no time, however, that we quickly surrpassed the 1300 mark. All we did was pick a couple of openings that were gambits, and then just studied tactics. That was it. We didn't memorize opneing lines, we didn't learn a bunch of positional strategy, and we didn't even touch the endgame. We often found ourselves with terrible positions out of the opening, but it didn't matter much. We had the tactics to win anyway. And because our opponets spent most of their time studying specific openings (one's we never played), they had no idea how to deal with all the gambited material we gave them. They soon lost their way and couldn't handle all the tactical shots we were pounding 'em with.

My analogy here is obvious: What held for me and my friends ought to hold for you as well.

So, I guess I'm saying you shouldn't do a balanced approach until you need to. And at the 1200 level, you don't need balance, you just need tactics.

That's my opinion from my experience. I could be mistaken in thinking this holds generally, but I don't have evidence to the contrary as of yet.

Here's something to try. If studying tactics from diagrams and the circles is becoming tedious or boring, change the way you do tactics. This is how we did tactics for the longest time. We got Chernev's 1000 Best Short Games of Chess and just played through those. Over and over again. We also used that big Polgar book called, Chess. they are all short games so it doesn't take forever to play play through them and in all those games you get all the salient tactical patterns you need to bury those 1200 players. Plus, playing over a 10 move win by, say, Botvinnik, is way more fun that doing a bunch of dry diagrams. Diagrams have there place, but take a break from them for a while. there are a lot of boks like these. Books that just have short tactical games of 25 moves or fewer. You can get them from games ranging from the 1800's to contenmporary games. I think John Nunn has a book out with 100 or so short wins--all by GMs and IMs--all played no earlier than the 70's.

5/02/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Quandoman. That sounds like a really fun approach: pick up some fun and reckless gambits and then study the hell out of tactics.

5/02/2006 11:56:00 PM  

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